108: The Angels: How To Raise Future Entrepreneurs Through eBay – Arlie and Shari Smith

Arlie and Shari Smith have been selling on eBay since 2006. Shari runs their eBay business from home while Arlie works for Costco (where he has worked for almost 24 years). 6 years ago Arlie was diagnosed with MS and 2.5 years ago he was diagnosed with cancer with a median lifespan of 2.5 years. But something beautiful happened and continues to unfold in their lives through their community.

Interesting Notes

  • Arlie believes that God has a purpose for him because he is still walking around with his wheelchair.
  • He posted on Facebook that he was diagnosed with Cancer so that he could let everyone know. After his post, one of the members of Costco, a lady, called him on the phone while he was working. She informed Arlie that she created a private group on Facebook called Arlie's Angels. The group's aim is to raise money to send Arlie and Shari to a vacation.
  • Arlie told the lady that all he wanted is to be the number one fundraiser for the Costco Children's Hospital. The lady promised to help him with that plus a vacation. The lady then contacted Shari on Facebook and ask where the couple wanted to have a vacation. Shari answered she wanted it to be at the Surf and Sand Hotel and Beach.
  • The lady was able to raise the money through the help of the Costco members, Facebook community, and their neighborhood.
  • One day, while Arlie is working at Costco, the lady and the 50 other people, including the news crews came in and surprise Arlie. She presented the vacation voucher to Arlie and Shari. Arlie also became the number one fundraiser for the Costco Children's Hospital.
  • Here's the actual coverage from ABC in 2015:
  • Arlie and Shari's eBay story started when they bought a house after they got married. Arlie already works with Costco while Shari worked as a Recruiter for a Fortune 500 company. Shari knew that she needed to work every day to help in paying for the mortgage fee of their house. She was making a lot of money, but she was under stress 11 hours a day.
  • For their own well-being, Shari quit her job. She figured that before she finds another job, she should sell something. She had jewelry from her boss whom she worked with for 15 years. She thought she could sell the jewelry on eBay before she could find another job.
  • Their family and friends knew that Shari is selling on eBay. They started to ask her if she could sell their things. Shari told herself that if she could make enough money to pay the mortgage every month, she doesn't have to go and get another job. That was 11 years ago and it has paid their house mortgage ever since.
  • Arlie and Shari figured out that they could list and sell items within 7 days. Thus the name of their eBay store, 7daysale4u.
  • Arlie is the perfectionist. He is the one who puts systems in place. They figured out that they need to be organized and has a system for everything to guide the part-time help in doing their tasks.
  • When Shari had 175 items, she had no location code yet. But now that they had 1300 items, they created item code and location code.
  • Shari has a crew of teenagers that works for her eBay biz. The teenagers love and adore her who sets a good example of a great boss. When Arlie and Shari moved 35 miles away from the teenagers home, the teenagers came with her to continue working.
  • Shari is having fun with her eBay biz. She finds fulfillment in teaching the teenagers to be entrepreneurs someday. She is teaching them the mindset that if you list this many in an hour they will be more profitable.
  • At present, Shari has 5 teenagers and a couple is coming in mid-June. Shari already has stuff ready for them to work with.
  • Most of the teenagers do the whole listing process and storing the items into locations. A couple of them are trained in shipping, from picking up the items to packing and shipping the item. Those trained in shipping found the task fun. Once they did some shipping, it is hard to get them back to listing again.
  • The youngest crew Shari has is a fourteen and a half boy. She hired him because she had half a garage full of candles that were in heavy boxes. She had the boy list and do the lifting of the boxes.
  • There was a time last year that their sales were so high and then dropped off. Her payroll has been so high too, that she had to do some tweaking. She listed so much and paid their clients for what did sell. But, she did not have systems in place for the items that are listed but don't sell. On top of it, her father was in poor health.
  • Shari felt so down. She thought that she blew her business and failed. Then she saw a note on the refrigerator. It was from one of the teenagers who go to college.
  • The teenager says something like she does not listen to an adult, but Shari is one of the few adults whom she learns from. It is not so much what Shari says, but what she does and how she handles situations and stress. The teenager thanked Shari for giving her a safe place to go after school. She thanked Shari for the people she got to meet and for what Shari taught her technically.
  • Shari does not care anymore if she failed business-wise. Being a good influence on teenagers is all that matters to her now.
  • Meanwhile, Arlie will continue to raise/donate funds for the Costco Children's Hospital. He added that as long as he has breath, that is what he will be doing.
  • You can go to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals and donate. You can throw a note in there that you heard about it through Arlie. Or you can visit Arlie at Danville, California, Costco.
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This is the purple chandelier Ali spotted during the interview.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks

  • Shari has a good reputation that customers seek her out now. She is nice and accommodating. She believes that one should build relationships a lot of times. If her customer is upset about something, Shari takes care of it.
  • They ship every day of the week. They take their shipment to the Post Office and the FedEx at the end of the day.
  • They can find a sold item very fast. They have a storage unit. From the printed shipping list they could go to the storage unit 6 minutes away and find the bin with the item inside.
  • They choose the Buy It Now because they believe that if people want an item, people want to get it. So if Shari can determine the market value of an item, then she will always go for Buy It Now.
  • Shari only uses Auction if she is not sure if she can get more money. This happens when she can't find the same exact thing in the recently sold. In short, she does an Auction in case an item is worth more than she realized.
  • Shari trains teenagers on the right way of listing. She would have an experienced employee sitting and listing side by side with them. She starts that way so they can have flexible working hours. Those that have regular and stable schedule are trained to do the shipping.

Quotes

  • “I'm the most thankful person on this planet to have cancer and Multiple Sclerosis!”
  • “When you have a smile that is so beautiful and a personality that is so wonderful, people will seek you out.”
  • “As soon as it sells, it is a hot potato!”
  • “If people want it, they want to get it!”
  • “Business first. Then, once you learn how to keep the business done, you can have more fun. But you have to be mindful of getting the job done.”
  • “Create a profit first so we can keep you employed.”

Contact Information

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